Pioneer cotton growers launch new varieties

09 June, 2005

___Two pioneers of Australia’s post-war cotton industry, Paul Kahl and Frank Hadley, have launched a suite of new CSIRO/CSD cotton varieties that are expected to capture a major share of plantings in the 2005-06 season and beyond._

p. The new varieties include the Sicot 71 and Sicot 43 families, each comprising a conventional, Bollgard II®, Bollgard II® Roundup Ready® and Roundup Ready® variety, and the Sicot 80 family, containing a conventional, Bollgard II® and Roundup Ready® variety. p. Of the 11 varieties within these three families, individual varieties provide potential for high yields, accompanied by desirable length, strength and micronaire parameters, with resistance to bacterial blight, and highly favourable disease rankings for both fusarium and verticillium wilt. p. CSD general manager, Adam Kay, said Sicot 71BR was developing as one of the most successful cotton varieties ever produced in Australia, topping 30 of the 35 CRDC approved trials conducted in the 2004-05 season, and runner-up in a further three trials. p. CSIRO plant breeders, Dr Greg Constable and Peter Reid, noted that a key feature of the new varieties is their adaptation over a wide area, from central Queensland to the Lachlan in the case of the Sicot 71 family; the Western Namoi to the North and West for the Sicot 80 family; and southern and eastern regions for the Sicot 43 family. p. The Sicot 71 family (Sicot 71, Sicot 71B, Sicot 71BR and Sicot 71RR), which are recommended from Central Queensland to the Lachlan, are compact plant types with excellent disease resistance and outstanding yield potential. p. The Sicot 80 family (Sicot 80, Sicot 80B and Sicot 80RR), recommended from the western Namoi to the North and West, represent a vigorous full season plant type, with a favourable disease resistance package, combined with early season vigour, excellent fibre quality and dryland adaptability. p. The Sicot 43 family (Sicala 43, Sicot 43B, Sicot 43BR and Sicot 43RR), possess early to medium maturity characteristics combined with compact plant growth, good seedling vigour and excellent yield potential in shorter season areas. p. The yield potential, fibre quality characteristics, regional adaptability, disease resistance and technology attributes of the new varieties were lauded by both Paul Kahl and Frank Hadley, as was the number of varieties available.

This season, CSD will offer 20 varieties, including 7 conventional varieties, 5 Bollgard® varieties, and four each with Bollgard® Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready® characteristics, as well as a further 12 niche varieties for special purposes.

p. In contrast, in the 1960s and early 1970s they had to contend with the availability of a single variety, inadequate industry infrastructure, inappropriate machinery and equipment, limited research, extension and marketing activities, pioneering farming systems, relatively poor yields, limited supplies of chemicals to keep insects at bay, and an absence of modern biotechnology. p. Their first crop at “Glencoe” on the Namoi comprised 60 acres yielding 90 bales or 1.5 bales to the acre. It was grown with a limited water licence delivered by a small pump on the river, harvested with a one-row picker, and transported in woolpacks to Brisbane for ginning. p. Paul Kahl was later to be the Namoi Cotton Co-operative chairman for around a quarter of a century. Frank Hadley was instrumental in the establishment of Cotton Seed Distributors (1967) and served as a director of CSD from 1967 until his retirement in 2002, being its chairman for seven years. p. When they started growing cotton in the Namoi, bitumen roads were non-existent in the Narrabri-Wee Waa region; the Keepit Dam was the only reservoir north of the Lachlan; and there were only five irrigators along the length of the Namoi. Bulk fuel was not available; and chemicals, machinery and equipment were available for sheep, but not for cotton. p. Floods enveloped the region in 1971; heliothis migrated from Queensland in 1973, and DDT was the only universal pesticide in use at the time, but was soon banned. The prospect of cotton crops averaging 1.5 bales/acre was regarded by Department of Agriculture officials as “extremely optimistic.” Yields in 2005 have often exceeded 5 bales/acre. p. Further information: Adam Kay